By N. Civita
This upcoming season of NBA basketball is one to behold. The overriding consensus in the basketball community is that we know nothing. This is mainly due to a few variables. The first is the fall of two powerhouses, the Golden State Warriors and Lebron James, which have defined the league for the past decade. The Warriors have not only lost Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets, but are also going to be playing without Klay Thompson, a key component in the team’s makeup. Lebron James, on the other hand, is now seemingly mortal at 34 years of age and we should expect him to slow down, despite his move to the now title contending Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA is wide open and there is no idea on who will be champion. Another reason this season will be mouthwateringly good is the fact that 40% of the league’s players were free agents last summer. This means that 40% of the players could have signed with any team they wanted to, giving stars the power to choose which franchise best suits their style. This coupled with the NBA’s recent rise in jaw dropping trades has filled the league to the brim with teams vying for a ring. In the West we are faced with a stacked conference where 12 of the 15 teams could potentially make the playoffs, and 8 who could arguably win it all. In the East there is less competition. The lack of stars has weakened the East significantly, and when you consider how injury prone the few Eastern stars are it is a clear sign of imbalance between the conferences. It is impossible to know who will win, but there is one thing we do know. The NBA will be awesome.
Team descriptions for the upcoming season
Dallas Mavericks: One of my personal favorites, the Dallas mavericks are a dangerous team. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are a lethal duo and would make Dallas my dark horse pick if not for their very lacking bench.
Denver Nuggets: My actual dark horse pick. This team is as deep as Denver is high. The Nuggets are scary. A deep bench, three-point shooting, perimeter defense, an unfair home advantage in the elevated air pressure, a superstar in Nikola Jokic, and an ice-cold killer in Jamal Murray, solidify them as a team that other franchises should fear.
Golden State Warriors: A shell of what they once were. Even though they still have Curry and Draymond for the season and traded for D’angelo Russel don’t expect much. Their lack of a bench, Klay Thompson getting hurt, losing Kevin Durant and other vital components have left the Warriors weaker than ever. Other than Curry getting flaming hot once in a while they may miss the playoffs.
Houston Rockets: With Westbrook replacing Chris Paul the Rockets have a shot. A shaky shot, but a shot, nonetheless. Their title hopes purely depends on Harden and Westbrook, two MVPs and childhood friends, giving up their ball hogging ways. If they can play together, they may be unstoppable.
Los Angeles Clippers: Clear cut title contenders. Not only do they have an amazing team culture which generates a winning atmosphere through a deep roster and a championship level coach, but they also added the best defensive wings in the game. Paul George, a certified superstar, and Kawhi Leonard, a hall of fame level defender, finals MVP, and reigning NBA champion, have joined the Clippers to the despair of the other 29 teams. Watch out.
Los Angeles Lakers: The Clippers aren’t the only team in LA looking for rings. The Lakers, despite their terrible recent track record, are seemingly a team to be reckoned with. The pairing of Lebron James and Anthony Davis could be devastating as it looks impossible to defend a pick and roll involving the two superstars. It looks like the Showtime Lakers are back in a big way.
Memphis Grizzlies: They have an exciting young core of players but with a stacked Western Conference you can’t expect them to make the playoffs.
Minnesota Wolves: A once potential filled team, the Wolves have solidified themselves as a bust, i.e. they suck.
New Orleans Pelicans: With Zion and a fantastic group of young players including, Lonzo and Ingram, the Pelicans look like a team of the future. Sure, they’ll look amazing, especially with Zion leading the charge, but can he stay healthy? I particularly don’t see them making it this year, but if their young players develop in the next few years, they could be a team to be reckoned with.
Oklahoma City Thunder: A supposedly tanking team, the Thunder will pull off a better record than most people expect. A deep squad filled with role players and young guns led by Chris Paul doesn’t sound like a walk in the park for any team.
Phoenix Suns: The Suns will be the Suns. They won’t make the playoffs.
Portland Trail Blazers: With some sneaky good additions, like Whiteside, this past summer, the Blazers are poised to compete yet again this year. They have been able to maintain the same core of players that brought them to the conference finals last year, and Damian Lillard looks ready to go off. They would be my dark horse pick, but they made the conference Finals last year, so they already are title contenders.
Sacramento Kings: With an exciting, young core of players, led by De’aron Fox, The Kings will be fun to watch and may even make the playoffs. Unfortunately, that’s it.
San Antonio Spurs: Never count out the Spurs. Coach Popovich is unprecedented, and I can’t imagine him not making the playoffs. #Legend
Utah Jazz: Utah has become a potential powerhouse. With some awe inspiring additions like Conley and Bogdanovic this past offseason, the Jazz look ready to compete. They could surprise any team if they aren’t careful on the road to glory.
Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks will only go as far as Trae Young takes them. With a mix of some fun young players and some wily veterans the Hawks may even make the playoffs, but that’s it.
Boston Celtics: The Boston Celtics, once again has a chance with its solid core (Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) and other good role players (Ines Kanter).
Brooklyn Nets: This is basically a gap year for the Nets. They’ll make the playoffs if Kyrie Irving is healthy, but this is the other teams’, in the East, only shot at the title, because when KD comes back next season… “Issa wrap.”
Charlotte Hornets: Who cares number 1.
Chicago Bulls: Who cares number 2.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Who cares number 3.
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons will probably make the playoffs with Drummond, Griffin and Rose but they don’t have the fire power to go up against the top teams.
Indiana Pacers: With Oladipo still out, I don’t know about the Pacers. With a weak Eastern Conference, they may make the playoffs, but who knows?
Miami Heat: A team filled with roughriders led by Jimmy Butler. The Heat are another sneaky good team you do not want to encounter in playoffs.
Milwaukee Bucks: If Giannis can start hitting jump shots you can basically assume the Bucks will make the finals. If not, then the only team stopping them are the 76ers.
New York Knicks: Who cares number 4.
Orlando Magic: Even though they may make the playoffs… Who cares number 5.
Philadelphia 76ers: The 76ers are a BIG team. If they can accommodate their new pieces and if Ben Simmons can start hitting jump shots, you can assume they are going to the Finals. So, the East will basically be defined if either Giannis or Simmons can hit jumpshots. If neither can, which to be honest is the most likely outcome, this will be a fun matchup to watch.
Toronto Raptors: The Raptors are the reigning NBA champions! … Who cares number 6.
Washington Wizards: And to cap it all off… Who cares number 7.